Staves

They were bored.

He slouched in a chair in a corner while she lay sprawled out on her bed, chin popped in her palms, both suckling on their respective bottles.

The day had only just begun. Another visit to the Mare wouldn’t work, after last night they both had had enough of Mikael for the rest of the month. Work would work, but there was nothing for them to do, at least nothing that wasn’t better suited for the whelps. Nothing that was really urgent. Working through the incessantly growing pile of notes and letters from various clients would work too, and Kodlak would be delighted, but that didn’t work with ale.

That left training. Training always worked, with and without ale. They’d start immediately after they’d have finished their drinks.

Not that they were in a hurry.

The silence in the room was soothing, leaving them both to their own thoughts. Not that there was much to think of. It would remain a mystery anyway who had brought home whom last night, no amount of thinking would change that. But that they had woken in the same bed, both still wearing their underclothes, meant it had been fun. Probably more fun than usual. It meant one of them hadn’t found his own room any more.

They hadn’t bothered to get dressed yet. And the ale helped with the headache. It always did.

Farkas placed his heels on her desk, his head leant against the wall. The chair looked ridiculously fragile under his bulk and creaked dangerously when he started to rock it back and forth.

“Leave it,” Svynn said without looking up. She knew he wouldn’t.

But after the last incident, she had gotten sturdier furniture.

When it finally slipped away beneath him and his head thumped with a dull thud against the wall, she only bared her teeth to him.

“Told you so.”

Farkas lay sprawled on his back, still clutching to his bottle. Not a drop was lost. And he had a skull of iron anyway. Bullhead.

“I’m bored,” he grinned, taking another swig.

“Obviously.”

“Do something.”

“Oaf.”

From his unusual perspective, he spotted something he had never before recognised. At least not consciously, although he considered this room at least as much his own as his own. On the other hand, sometimes he found things in his own room he could have sworn that he had never seen them before.

He always suspected they were Svynn’s.

A bucket that looked remarkably like one of Tilma’s cleaning buckets was tugged into the niche between armour stand and wall, nearly hidden by the open door. It was stuffed with stakes of various materials and lengths, most of them ornated by carvings or gems.

“What’s that?”

Svynn turned her head lazily. “Oh. That. Staves.”

“Staves?”

“Yep. Magic staves. Got a whole bunch once from a necro den. Or was it vampires? Always wanted to sell them to Farengar, they fetch a good price.”

Farkas scrambled to his feet and took one of the staves out of the bucket. An oaken rod, nearly as long as he was big, the wood smooth and dark from years of use, its head carved into the intricate head of a snake. Apart from that, it felt just like an oaken rod.

“You know what it does?” A glint of mischief shone in his eyes.

“No idea. Farengar would know, probably.”

He gestured to the assemblage of encapsuled firepower. He only suspected that it was firepower, of course. Nobody could know for sure. Once he had heard a story about a staff that could turn people into toads. Or chickens.

If he had to make a choice, he’d choose the toad. People ate chickens.

“You know what any of these do?”

A sly grin spread over her face. “No. Not of most of them.”

Farkas studied the thing pensively… as pensively as Farkas could study anything. It was a bit unsettling, and Svynn turned to her back.

“Have you ever used one of them?”

“No. It’s magic.” What a weird idea.

His eyes lingered on the snakehead. He didn’t like snakes, but spiders were worse. “I wanna try them.”

Svynn turned to her side, her head propped in her palm. “You want what?

“You don’t have to do magic to use them, do you?” A certain eagerness was in his voice. A dangerous eagerness.

She narrowed her eyes at him. “No. That’s why they’re so expensive.”

“So, what do you think?”

They were bored, after all. And they didn’t need training.

Five minutes later two figures strolled through Jorrvaskr’s main hall, both armoured in heavy steel. It was shortly before noon, and everybody was either out working, out training or still sleeping off a hangover.

Everybody but one.

“Where you’re going?” The gruff voice came from the small table under the fragments of Wuuthrad, but the man didn’t even look up. He didn’t really wanna know, it were just Svynn and his brother. He just wanted them to know that he had an eye on them.

Someone had to, after all.

On the other hand, he really wanted to know how the critic would justify his exuberant eulogy of the new bard in Rorikstead. Everybody knew that Rorik only hired the best and most expensive, but he personally had found the performance less than striking.

Not that it hadn’t been a nice diversion from Mikael, but… did the world really need another version of Ragnar the Red? It seemed that old Rorik did everything to make the horrible earworm his personal property. Everybody knew that Ragnar came originally from Ivar- and not from Rorikstead.

The critic had definitely been paid off. Time to resign his subscription.

“Halted Stream Camp.”

“Again?” He had cleared it out himself less than a week ago. And Ria was still angry with him because he had insisted to drag half a dozen mammoth tusks back home. There couldn’t yet be another contract for it.

Could it?

“Yep.” The door clapped shut.

Vilkas turned back to the Whiterun Gazette, skimming through the pages until he found the traveler alerts. Of course, the Valtheim towers were occupied again. The Giants from Secunda’s Kiss became a nuisance, trolls at the Ritual Stone and strange sightings near the Whitewatch tower.

It was a good time to be a Companion.

And then he lifted his head, staring at the door.

Something was wrong. Horribly wrong. A shudder of dread ran down his spine.

Where were their swords? And what was it they had strapped to their backs instead?

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